I was browsing some of the cover letters in this forum and comparing them to my own, and it seems mine is much longer than anything I've read here. I was following the advice of a playwriting blog, and sent it to an old theater professor of mine to give it a quick look.
I sent it a few places and then checked in this forum just now, and my letter is much longer than any I've read here. I thought I might post it, and you could give me your thoughts. I've also redacted a few personal details.
To the [Theater Company in question],
My name is [me], and I’m a playwright from Colorado Springs. I’ve recently written an adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. A friend of mine has told me about your company, about the quality and professionalism of your productions, and also that you might be interested in such a work. Prominent scholar, Harold Bloom, writes that readers, “now require mediation to read Paradise Lost that relatively few will make the attempt… is a great sorrow, and a true cultural loss.” Dramatic adaptation can certainly serve as this mediation, to nurture and preserve, in the words of [how the particular company mission statement aligns] .
While the adaptation is, for the most part, faithful, it is not a transcription of Milton’s poetry. Writing in poetic prose, from Milton’s words I’ve crafted the sort of living, breathing dialogue that audiences expect from a work of modern drama. I’ve untangled his grammar, updated the language where necessary, while retaining Milton’s tone, his grandeur and power. I have not, however, retained the length, it runs a mere one hour and forty-five minutes. The script is sixty-seven pages long. There are thirteen roles, which can be performed by nine actors through double-casting. Four males, one female, and then four ensemble which can be of either gender.
Paradise Lost was staged this summer, through a small company in Colorado Springs. Though our resources were meager, the production was both moving and powerful. The house was full every night of the run. Paradise Lost made the most money of any show of the season. What most surprised me though, was the makeup of the audience. I expected patrons in their forties, fifties, and sixties, those who remember the poem from when it was being more widely taught regardless of discipline. However, our audiences trended young, twenty and thirty year-olds who perhaps were seeing a play for their first time.
Though perhaps this should not have been so surprising. It’s the same sort of struggle between supernatural beings that have had audiences turning out in droves for movies like Thor,Hellboy, and The Lord of the Rings. Though its inspiration is biblical, Paradise Lost is at heart epic fantasy.The types of stories we once told through epic poetry are the same types of stories we tell now through comic books. Yet no other work detailing the exploits of immortal and preternatural beings can match that fateful confrontation between Satan and the Archangel Michael – the goosebumps one feels when they finally clash to decide the empire of Heaven. “Summon up your utmost strength and call him named Almighty to your aid, I fly not, for I have sought you far and nigh.”
Yet, it is not just epic fantasy, but also tragedy. Many members of the audience related to me how they were deeply affected by the production, particularly by the final scenes, of Michael relating to Adam the full magnitude of mankind’s fall, of the Son’s impassioned defense of Man before a wrathful God, and Eve’s final words to Adam as they exit the garden. And this was coming from patrons of wide variety of beliefs and creeds, not just Christians, but atheists, agnostics, and in one case, a LaVeyan Satanist.
[x], Artistic Director of [x], a regional theater company in Colorado Springs writes: “Deeply engaging … [me] has done a splendid job of wrangling Milton’s Leviathan.”
I've attached the first several scenes to this email. Should you be interested, I can be contacted at [email] or at [phonenumber]. I look forward to discussing the possibility of a future artistic partnership.
Too much, I suppose. Where should I make cuts/edits?
I wish that I had the knowledge to answer your question, but sadly I do not. I am however deeply interested in whatever the answer may be. Wishing you the best of luck on your venture is something I can offer, wish it was more.